Apple, Verizon roll out Fleet Swap program, aim for enterprise, private 5G deployments

The two companies outlined a program where companies can swap entire fleets of smartphones for Apple iPhone 12. Verizon also highlighted how 5G mmwave is being deployed in Honeywell offices and GM factories.

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Apple's partnership with Verizon on 5G and the iPhone 12 lineup is all about business as well as indoor and enterprise 5G deployments.

Tami Erwin, Executive Vice President and Group CEO for Verizon Business, along with Apple, in an event outlined 5G Fleet Swap, a program that allows companies to trade in their entire fleet of smartphones from Verizon or any carrier and upgrade to any iPhone 12 model for no upfront cost. The iPhone 12 Mini will carry no monthly cost. 

Erwin detailed the reasoning for the program, highlighting "the acceleration to digital will only get faster." 

At Apple's iPhone 12 launch, Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg highlighted the companies' partnership as a way to expand 5G millimeter wave reach. But the reality is 5G mmwave is going to be more about business.

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Enter the Verizon 5G Fleet Swap effort. Susan Prescott, Apple's vice president of Markets, Apps and Services said that the iPhone 12 "paired with Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband going indoors it's now easier than ever for businesses to build transformational mobile apps."

During the event, Prescott showed a brief video demonstrating enterprise apps, like JigSpace that allows employees to view products in devices using augmented reality. At the start of the pandemic, JigSpace provided instructions and diagrams to technicians in augmented reality for ventilators.

Another app Apple highlighted during the event was OsiriX, a radiology medical image viewer, touting 5G speeds that shortens the load time for large files, making it possible to view and diagnose from anywhere. IBM's Maximo Visual Inspection app will also benefit from indoor 5G.

From Verizon's standpoint, the iPhone 12 can be the front end of driving private 5G enterprise deployments. Qualcomm recently outlined how 5G mmwave will play into the enterprise via edge computing.

Indeed, Verizon Business announced that General Motors and Honeywell will be the first enterprise customers to install Verizon's 5G Ultra Wideband service inside their corporate offices. Honeywell and GM will develop customized use cases that Apple could use to deploy more iPhone 12 devices.

The initial Verizon Business 5G deployment will be in Honeywell's headquarters in Charlotte, NC and GM's Factory Zero at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Center, which is focused on electric vehicles.

Randy Mott, CIO of GM, said 5G will be critical to improving quality and speed of EV production. Sheila Jordan, chief digital technology officer at Honeywell, said 5G will help showcase the company's industrial platforms and products.

Honeywell and GM will also explore 5G as a showcase for industrial and manufacturing use cases. Private 5G is likely to be a key enterprise use case for digital transformation, edge computing and artificial intelligence.